pull oneself up by bootstraps
pull (oneself) up by (one's) (own) bootstraps
To improve one's life or circumstances through one's own efforts, rather than relying on others. After I declared bankruptcy, I had to pull myself up by my bootstraps and rebuild my financial standing. Whenever I hear someone say that poor people just need to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, I remind them that a lot of people don't have boots.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
pull oneself up by one's (own) bootstraps
Fig. to improve or become a success by one's own efforts. If Sam had a little encouragement, he could pull himself up by his bootstraps. Given a chance, I'm sure I can pull myself up by my own bootstraps.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.